Michael Snarskis, a man who had a major impact on the archeology of Costa Rica, died earlier in the week. He was found in his Montelimar, Goicoechea, home Monday dead of apparent natural causes.
Snarskis, 65, was a Canadian who earned a doctorate in anthropology at New York’s Columbia University in 1978. His dissertation was “The Archaeology of the Central Atlantic Watershed of Costa Rica.”
He founded and directed the archeology department at the Museo Nacional for 10 years and was a professor of archaeology for 14 years at the Universidad de Costa Rica. A biography online said he had published 55 books and articles on Costa Rica and Central America. He also commented on Costa Rica’s stone spheres for U.S. television.
He was associated as an archeologist with the Tayutic Foundation which seeks to preserve and explore the Guayabo monument.
Snarskis, himself, reported on his work with U.S. archaeologist Frederick W. Lange, on the Nicoya peninsula. He said that since the mid-1970s there was a quantum jump in scientific archaeology. He said that he assisted Lange to establish a comprehensive program for archaeological investigation based at the museum.
“Through a series of projects, knowledge of the settlement patterns and subsistence of past cultures has been greatly broadened, the classification of artifacts and other cultural features systematized, and the cultural sequence greatly lengthened,” he said.
Snarskis also offered archaeological tours. A favorable comment on his tours also said that many of the tombs and artifacts displayed in the Museo Nacional were personally excavated by Snarskis and that he was the technical advisor for the original mounting of the jade museum and the gold museum.
Snarskis also wrote at times for The Tico Times.